WA Journey Ways - Crocodile and Rainbow Serpent, Walyalup (Fremantle)
There are stories are about the formation of the modern coastline from around Australia. In WA they typically describe a fight between freshwater and saltwater totems which results in the reshaping of the coastline. They were almost certainly constructed as narratives to remember the change in sea levels brought by the Holocene warming between 15,000 and 8,000 years ago. This story tells the protection of the Swan River System, which was later removed to construct Fremantle Harbour.
Added to System
Updated in System
Dr Francesca Robertson, Dr Noel Nannup, Alison Nannup
WA Journey Ways is a collaboration of Kurongkurl Katitjin, Edith Cowan University and WA Main Roads
Copyright. Do not re-use without permission.
Told by and permission provided by Trevor Walley. Do not re-use without permission.
"Balladong Boodja (around York) Yondocht, the saltwater reptile, or a big crocodile came down, drifted down and started rolling and rolling around all over the place at the sound, smashing here and roaring around here and there. The Rainbow Serpent, he is freshwater, he lifted his head up, probably somewhere near York. He smelled the salt and heard the big rumbling sound so he went down to have a look." - Trevor Walley
"When he got to Walyalup (Fremantle) he spoke to Djiralji, (a little gecko) because Djiralji, is the keeper of the cave there. The Rainbow Serpent told him to twist the crocodile around and 'when you can, bite his nurt (tail) off' (if you grab a gecko his tail comes off so he can get away). So Djiralji went out there and had a big fight, a big battle. He twisted crocodile around and bit his tail off. The tail drifted around and crocodile said I 'give up, you win'. He took his front feet off…he bit his front legs off, and so he was drifting around in the Cockburn Sound." - Trevor Walley
"Meanwhile big waves of saltwater were coming up the river, so he got the tail and it put it across the entrance of the swan river and that's called Warra Nurt (bad tail). He got his front toenails and he anchored it down on the southern end and that called Djenna birri (toenails), on the southern end and at the northern end, he got hair from his armpit and he anchored it down there and that called Yangji Ninning (hair sitting down). At the northern part he plastered it down and stopped the saltwater from coming up. That was his tail that went across." - Trevor Walley
"So, the Yondocht was floating around, he's lost front legs and he had his tail missing and he was nyorn, (pretty sad). The kangaroo, the representative of the kangaroo tribe said 'look, you can stay here but you can't, we can give you the quandong to eat. The bush turkey gave him his feathers because he felt he was balak (naked), you know. Crocodile was floating around eating the quandong and wearing feathers. He went into a cave in Yanchep, called Yondocht cave and he thought about it. Just north of Yondocht cave is Waladj (emu) cave. He came out at Waladj Cave as a waladj. He went up north, way up north." - Trevor Walley
"If you look at Rottnest island, he's called Wadjemup, wedj is the place of the emu, that's why he called Wadjemup. He's called that because that's a Nyoongar word 'up'. and Garden Island is called Yondocht mindijt, [Yondocht not Nyoongar] minditj is but it's not up at the end. if it's got up at the end its 'up' on the end, it's a bit of a statement. Wadjemup, Rottnest Island that's a statement, called, that's a statement but Garden islands not a statement, it's a story. Cos up means 'place of' and Cantonment hill is called 'dwerta nurtup' and it fits in with the story." - Trevor Walley